An old new pool reforming?
Remember the wonderful Whitikau Pool?(Image on right – Looking up river towards the Fence Pool)
Back to the future? We concur with the following quote from Barry Greig’s 1983 Fishing Guide (P31-32)“The pool is about 90m long being mostly fast bubbly water. This new pool is looking marvelous for the winter spawning runs…. This pool is possibly one of the most popular and best nymphing pools on the Tongariro River with fish lying throughout its length. It also fishes well with a wet fly by casting directly across and letting the fly swing across the pool”
Many other regular TRM anglers would go further than that and claim it used to be the very best pool on the Tongariro. Some advise they shifted their focus away from the Tongariro after the BIG 2004 flood wiped out the Whitikau Pool. (Ditto the Breakaway Pool?)
Unfortunately after the 2004 BIG flood it became un-acccessible and un-fishable, but is now reforming below the confluence of the Whitikau River – probably the most important spawning tributary for the Tongariro River.
As indicated in the images, it looks great. You can almost smell the trout congregating along the TRB deciding whether they should run up the Whitikau or continue up the main river. The challenge is to get the nymph over to there.
This upper river region lost a lot of angler traffic to other locations such as the Braids over the last few seasons. The conversion of the Braids into a quarry – see report yesterday – and the re-formation of this pool should encourage them to drive a bit further south.
Access is 7 km from Turangi up SH1 across the Poutu River bridge, turn sharp left into the car park and then just over 2 km to the Blue Pool car park – where the rafts are hauled out after their trip down from Poutu Intake dam. Then a five minute walk up past the Sand Pool will reveal how much this pool has developed. You cannot walk past it without a flick.
If I have already beaten you to the Whitikau then there are other options, such as the Fence Pool, Sand Pool, Reef and Blue Pool, or you can just sit and take in the surroundings and watch the Blue ducks… and rafts. What a beautiful relaxing environment in the upper river.
We should also comment on the access. At the time Barry Greig wrote his Fishing Guide, we remind you that anglers had to walk up from the main highway as the gravel access road is on Corrections Department land. So anglers’ grateful thanks go to Corrections Department for their continued access and for their maintenance of the road and the walking track. This is probably one of the best maintained wide walking tracks along the Tongariro River with the weeds along the sides regularly sprayed and the pot holes on the road filled in etc..
It is worth the walk up to the Fence pool just for the majestic upper river scenery. What a wonderful river.(The last rapid for rafters below the Sand Pool)
Fence Pool -Rating 9 (out of 20) reduced from 11.
Revised by Andrew Christmas in 2011 for revised pool rating chart.
(Googled Aerial of upper Tongariro River pools with Fence Pool located at bottom
of bush on LHS. Above you can make out the access road leading to the
Blue Pool car park. It is about 7 km. south from TRM to the Poutu
River bridge, then turn sharp left and follow the anglers access to the
river for 2 km.)
(Following photos taken 6 February 2009. Car park at Blue Pool is often crowded with rafts arriving and leaving)
Go to the Blue Pool car park. Path leaves from behind the hut, follows the river up to the Sand Pool, then turns hard right, and the only thing up there is the Fence Pool.
From where the track touches the bank, you can look forward to check if anyone is in the pool.
Beyond the Fence Pool is the upper limit for fishing in winter – the upper river is closed for spawning from 31st May to 1st December when the upper river opens.
(Photo left of winter limit pool up above the Fence Pool)
2009 Pool rating
11 (out of 20) Only handles a couple of rods at the most.
Fence Pool (revised by TT.)
Often photographed, a pleasure to fish – but not as productive as most pools.
Personally, I’d fish there happily, fish or no fish. It has two distinct parts – the narrow, fast and deep gut (the handle of the fan, if you like) and the lower fan area, which shallows rapidly.
There have been no major changes since 2008 summer, although the tail is slightly shallower, with some big boulders being deposited – but not much different.
Of course, if you go and look at the pool during a big flood, you’ll see why it doesn’t change – nothing can hold place in the flow. It’s quite awesome, and seldom seen.
It is deep – very deep. Difficult with a wet line, and if using a nymph, a very long leader is needed at the head – the handle of the fan, virtually.
Approach with caution – the fish sit close in to the TLB at the bottom of the gut, until scared away by fishermen. If no-one has been there, it is not uncommon to see 5-8 trout about 5-6 feet out from bank where the fan and handle meet. If you walk up along the stone bank, you have already scared the fish!.
Down at the handle of the fan, as it were, a wet line cast diagonally right
across, just past the end of the cliff, and allowed to trail can work
very well. But fish your feet first. Then lower down, and nymph in 6-7
feet of water. The fish in winter seem to like the shelter of the big
boulders on the bottom.
For those brave souls who cross the river, there is delightful fishing to be had casting out from the TRB, and even some dry fly in summer.
In winter, numbers hang around in here, although a large percentage have disappeared up the Whitikau. Summer there is often nothing there, but I still make a pilgrimage and fish it.
It’s a very pretty pool, but small, and does not hold large quantities – certainly it does not afford the “I hooked 15 in 2 hours” conditions claimed of other pools. Who cares. Stay away, and leave it me. The Fence Pool devotees go back come hell or high water, and not for the fish. A place to unwind, swear at the swallows and fantails making such a racket, and generally “mess about by a river” with usually nobody else to disturb you.
(Photo left looking down river to the pumice cliffs above the Sand Pool with the Whitikau Tributary in the trees on the RHS. The old Whitikau Pool is now fast riffles or a long run)
Situated above the Whitikau Pool, the Fence Pool was also known as Admiral Fergusson’s Pool. Admiral Fergusson was a brother of General Sir Charles Fergusson, GG from 1924 to 1930. A camp was set up for the Admiral’s party within the Tongariro Prison Farm, near to the swing bridge over the river. The anglers were determined to live rough and insisted on tents rather than huts. However they accepted the luxury of an ablution hut. The showers consisted of a bucket of ice cold water from the river poised overhead.
below the dam which, after additional flows from various tributaries such as Waipa, Whitikau, Poutu, Mangamawhitwhiti, etc. results in approximately 23 cumecs at Major Jones Pool.
The Genesis Energy proposal to close the Poutu Canal for the first four
months of 2008 (which was cancelled after January) is now back on
track. The Poutu Canal is closed as it is subject to Genesis’
maintenance programme for the next few months. This means that for the
first time in over 40 years the Tongariro River is running at natural
levels – with no water being drawn off for hydro power purposes.
Tongariro River is running higher than you may be used to and all
anglers are warned to be more careful at crossing and wading.
flood on 15 April rose to over 500 cumecs and
will have affected many of the pools and river crossings. So
Generally no material changes since 2006 report. With the unfortunate loss of the Whitikau Pool after the 2004 flood, the Sand Pool has improved as the main holding pool below the confluence woth the Whitikau River, the major spawning tributary for the Tongariro River.
Another no-name pool featured often during 2006 winter season was the run below Sand Pool. This is accessed from the walking track and is best identified from other side tracks as anglers have to climb over a fallen tree. We are advised this bank is known as “The Plateau” or “The Reef”(?). The main current runs close to the bank so it is good for those with casting difficulties – such as Brent Purser. Brent is a persistent Australian type who has made this pool his own during 2006. He usually (and wisely) confines his efforts to wriggling a weighted line with an olive woolly bugger down the current and particularly on the outside of the obvious overhung ledge below the bank. Well, so he tells me (remember he is Australian).
Fence Pool 2006 (update by Anon guest/angler Ol’ardy.)
Most fishermen have a few favourite pools on the Tongariro, and this is a personal favourite, to which I return whenever I’m in Turangi. The Fence Pool is a well-kept secret. It is very small, and effectively only handles one rod, so if you prefer to fish in blissful solitude, this is the place for you. Go to the Blue Pool car park, head upstream, passing the Sand pool, until you get to the end of the track.
The pool is fan-shaped, and the fish are generally found from the end of the narrow gut (the handle) into the tail, and are usually on the other side of the main flow, so handling the line can be a bit tricky, unless you wade across to the other side. Shallow nymph.
Optionally, cast a fast sinking line straight at the cliff on the other side, (actually hitting it, and piling the line in the water), and let the current sweep the line down. I swear this works. Sinking lines are tricky to use in this pool because of the cross-currents, and the inability to maintain the line on the other bank. The head of the pool is very fast, very deep, and not very wide. Try flicking a sinking line into the head, and let it trail down might work.
catch anything or not. It is an intimate pool, a rare thing on the
Tongariro, with birds, strong river flows at your feet, beech trees,
etc. For some reason, swallows and/or fantails always seem to greet one when one goes there. Reading this, it sounds like a fishing cliché – but then, the water we fish is often clichéd – that’s why we go back.
I doubt you’ll catch lots of fish in the Fence, (most divert up the Whitikau) but it always seems to produce at least one, and usually good fish. And it beats standing in the line at the Blue Pool.
Cullen’s, Still, Spit, Cliff Pools?
(X Barbara Cooper’s 1975 booklet – Pools of the Tongariro)
Whitikau Pool – 2005 Report
This pool was once a compulsory Tongariro fly fishing experience. Many older anglers have fond memories of the Whitikau. In his 1983 Fishing Guide to the Tongariro River, Barry Greig described this pool as possibly one of the most popular and best nymphing pools on the river with fish lying throughout its length. Gary Kemsley quoted in A Taupo Fishing Guide, if he had to pick one pool to fish on the Tongariro River it would be this one. After the 2004 flood the pool has changed more into a boisterous run – almost a rapid. But the upper part of the river is still worth visiting, either for the Sand Pool, or above in the Fence Pool, or in the pocket water along the LHS below the above pools
So why would we bother sending anyone to a pool which is no longer a pool? This upper part of the river is always the first to clear after a flood or after rain. (11 June – Genesis Energy¹s resource consent for the Tongariro Power Scheme required recreational flow releases from Poutu Intake. The release results in an increase in flow and water level, 35 cubic metres per second for 6 hours., which discolours the rest of the river.) As explained by a far more knowledgeable retired guide (he is a bit shy), the resultant water colour split between 1/3 Whitikau aqua tint and 2/3 Tongariro brown stew hue equals ideal milky tinge for nymphing/wetlining soup. If it is too coloured after a fresh, retreat back to the Poutu, but that is another story…
The trout – so we were told – used to delay their primal social activities, holding in the main river waiting for the right conditions after a fresh to entice them on their final run up the Whitikau to their spawning grounds. Now it is a turbulent boulder strewn run the trout may hold longer in the Sand pool – so treat the obvious feed line along the RHS high bank and all other pocket water with respect on future trips.
NOTE: Pool Reports for the Tongariro River are prepared from guest/anglers experiences. As such, Tongariro River Motel do not accept any responsibility for the opinions of other anglers who are traditionally acknowledged liars about their best fishing pools.